The play’s director, Katy Early, has been directing since she was a teenager. While in college, she spent several years teaching Shakespeare and co-directing Shakespeare plays in a men's prison.
“That’s where I sort of cut my teeth in directing every week,” Early said.
This past summer, she directed “The Miracle Worker” at a festival before returning home to New York, where the Massachusetts-native settled down last year.
One night, huddled around a dinner table with friends, Early and the group decided to make some work for themselves.
“We all studied theater, they’re all actors [many from Brooklyn and Queens], so we looked around and thought ‘well, what play could we do with what we have?’” She said. “We have an apartment in Queens with a backyard and a little porch area, and ‘Much Ado’ takes place in a house and in a garden, so we figured why not try that? We had a chemical mixture of the right people and, miraculously, the right setting.”
The play features traverse staging which allows the actors to perform on either side and in the center of the audience. While the show takes place in Early’s backyard, it is a stellar setup with professional and emerging actors, costuming, lighting, staging and sound.
In this particular rendition of “Much Ado,” there is a focus on how the community handles scandal, especially how they handle a woman being slandered. By double casting a lot of the roles, there is a heightened element of the community. And while the comedy is light, the production doesn’t shy away from the more dramatic moments.
“The wedding scene really goes there and our actors and actresses can really handle the level of pain that happens in that scene,” Early said.
The production also makes the characters more sympathetic by showing scenes that are often skirted over. She added that in plays, there is typically a focus on Beatrice and Benedict’s love story. However, Early focused on all of the plots in the play, especially giving main character Hero her due.
“It’s really been a blast, I’ve really enjoyed working with these young actors,” Early said. “We got a lot of our friends from school in the mix but we also had a lot of new faces and it’s been a joy to work with everybody on my favorite Shakespeare play.”
Early explained that they are in the midst of starting a theatre company called The Juneberry Collective, though they are still in preliminary stages. While they are planning to do more shows, their next events will probably be readings of plays written by local writers. Three of Early’s housemates are also working on a one-woman show about a Chinese pirate queen that will debut in the spring.